Can I deduct funeral expenses for my mother?


Q. Can funeral expenses for my mother, who was 96 years young and on Medicare and Medicaid, such as pre-plan funeral costs and a monument be deducted on my 2020 taxes? I paid about $14,000 for everything and I have all receipts. She died in January 2020 and did not have any valuables. She didn’t have a will but I went to surrogate court and was appointed her voluntary administrator.
— Daughter

A. Unfortunately, no. You can’t take the deductions.

The cost of a funeral and burial can be deducted on a Form 1041, which is the final income tax return filed for a decedent’s estate, or on the Form 706, which is the federal estate tax return filed for the estate, said Lauren Mechaly, an attorney with Schenck Price Smith & King in Paramus.

Note that the deduction can’t be taken on both.

In the context of an individual’s income tax returns — Form 1040 — funeral and burial expenses are not treated as qualified expenses in the same way as business and medical expenses, Mechaly said.

“In New Jersey, Medicaid may assist in the cost of a funeral and burial for an individual who is a Medicaid recipient,” she said. “In addition, an individual seeking to establish eligibility for Medicaid can spend down his or her resources by entering into an irrevocable pre-need funeral contract.”

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This story was originally published on July 8, 2020. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.